Recently I visited the Victoria State Library in Melbourne, Australia. Not only was I struck by its architecture but the volume of books it held. If you had a lifetime to do nothing but read, you couldn’t get through one of the many rows of manuscripts and tomes.

What was also noticeable were the people who were using the library. I thought Honolulu was diverse, but it can’t hold a candle to the variety of peoples and languages I heard. While English may be the dominant language, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Thai, Greek, German, French, Russian, Spanish, Hindi, Amharic, Farsi, Swahili and many other tongues can be heard on the streets of Melbourne. And these are not just recently arrived residents but first- or second-generation Australians.

The diversity extends to food, too. Each culture or ethnicity is represented by their unique cuisine. A drive down Lygon Street is a culinary tour of the world. And each suburb is blessed with even more diversity with shops and little restaurants. There are only a handful of the big-name chain eateries. Melbourne has not been overwhelmed by America.

So what is the draw? What makes people want to come to Australia and Melbourne in particular?

In the 1950s, Southern California drew engineers and scientists. They created the machines for aviation that broke records and the ships that got us to the moon. The San Jose metropolitan area became the Silicon Valley, which still today provides us with the ability to communicate as the human race has never done before.

I’m still investigating the reason for the attraction Melbourne holds. It started with a gold rush in the 19th century and the town along the Yarra River has grown into a major metropolitan and cultural center. It has embraced change and has benefitted from that attitude. There is a dynamism that cannot be fully put into words.

Melbourne, Australia, attracts diversity not only in visitors but in residents. They seem to work out their differences more easily than in Hawaii.

The first floor of the south rotunda of the Victoria Library is devoted to things Australian and Melbournian with what must be thousands of books and documents. And that still doesn’t represent the energy one feels just walking down the streets.

What happened to Hawaii? There is an anti-technology movement that would have us mark time. History shows us there is only one condition for a culture’s survival — either move forward and adapt or die.

Hawaii is being held hostage by a minority that visualizes itself as a victimized society.

Somehow, all the diverse cultures, ethnicities and languages are still alive in Melbourne and work together to create a unique place to live. Yes, there are larger issues to deal with and people are attempting to answer the problems of aboriginal peoples, the degradation of the environment due to mining and the looming problem of climate change.

Hawaii is being held hostage by a minority that visualizes itself as a victimized society. We have established a democratic society that allows all viewpoints to be heard. There are legal mechanisms and processes that have been exercised and yet our political leaders have yet to gather the intestinal fortitude to ensure the majority is also represented.

I would like to see Hawaii become as dynamic a society as Melbourne engaging all groups and savoring the differences. Right now, that small group has driven a wedge in our culture. Please explain to me how this is a good thing?

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author

  • Victor Craft
    Victor Craft is a retired aerospace worker having functioned as an FAA certificated Airframe and Powerplants Technician, Logistician and Quality Assurance director working on several major weapons systems. Vic also served tours of duty with the armed forces in Vietnam, Kenya and the United Kingdom.